Welcome to the next generation of automation media!

By Rick Zabel

We all live and work in a global, competitive environment. It is an environment that requires companies to look internally and evaluate their strengths and weaknesses. It is an environment that compels companies to look externally for complements to their existing product or service offerings. It is an environment that enables potential business partnerships and possible acquisitions. This environment spawned a strategic publishing partnership more than five years ago between two automation-focused organizations: ISA and Automation.com. The natural progression of that partnership was the recent acquisition of Automation.com by ISA.

The International Society of Automation (ISA) and Automation.com began their partnership in October of 2009. At that time, ISA published the well-established InTech magazine, as well as InTech online and InTech e-newsletters. ISA wanted to continue and expand their electronic content offering to their members and subscribers. To do that effectively and efficiently, the organization needed a partner.

Since the company formed in 2000, Automation.com developed as a proven, profitable, digital-only media company. Automation.com became the leading automation-related online news and resource site and the publisher of Automation Weekly and various topical e-newsletters. ISA recognized the strength of Automation.com’s e-newsletter offering. Because we operated in the same market, the two companies partnered to offer a comprehensive series of electronic newsletters to their combined automation audiences. In 2009, the distribution list of the newly co-branded newsletters was 90,000. Today, our newsletters are distributed to 140,000 automation professionals worldwide. The partnership benefited both ISA and Automation.com.

Over the past five years, our two companies learned a lot from each other, particularly each other’s strengths. ISA, with approximately 30,000 members, excels at generating relevant technical content for automation standards, training, symposia, books, and InTech magazine; and ISA has developed a renowned corporate sponsorship program. Automation.com’s strength is content delivery and offering exciting, effective advertising opportunities in digital channels.

ISA is a healthy, well-established, individual member-based organization. Over the decades, ISA established and grew a significant investment portfolio. In the past two years, it made significant website and infrastructure investments to enable faster growth. ISA saw the opportunity to take our partnership to a new level by purchasing Automation.com.

ISA leadership began talking internally about the possibility of purchasing Automation.com one year ago. In March of this year, those conversations turned external to include the equity partners of Automation.com. When I was presented with the acquisition possibility, I immediately voiced my support. I have led the Automation.com media business since its inception in 2000. I understand ISA, the automation and publishing markets, and their dynamics. I have seen the positive effects our partnership had on our media products, readers, and advertisers. I immediately recognized the potential collaborative synergies that could occur if we became united. In my opinion, it was the proverbial “no-brainer” progression of our relationship. I think everyone will agree that it makes perfect sense for ISA to own Automation.com.

ISA purposefully created Automation.com as an independent, for-profit company to sustain its entrepreneurial, nimble spirit. It is important to understand that Automation.com will continue to operate as it has for the past fifteen years. ISA and Automation.com will now be able to present a more cohesive publishing strategy to benefit readers, advertisers, ISA’s partners, and the automation community as a whole. Our now collective, integrated media offering includes the Automation.com website, InTech website, co-branded e-newsletters, InTech print magazine, and the new InTech Plus mobile app and PULSE digital magazine.

The acquisition will allow us to explore other possible publishing activities and new content delivery options. One of ISA’s strategic goals is to provide automation professionals with the “coolest delivery” of content. This acquisition will help ISA achieve that goal. Together we have the opportunity to become the official voice of the automation profession.

One thing I have learned in my career is the value of networks and teamwork. A collection of companies or individuals will always be more powerful and more successful than one single company or individual. The combination of ISA and Automation.com will be greater than the sum of the two individual organizations. There are endless possibilities and opportunities yet to be explored. Please send me your feedback. I look forward to being a part of the ISA family and the entire automation community.

About the Author

Rick ZabelRick Zabel is vice president, publisher, and occasional editor of Automation.com, and has been with the company since its inception in 2000. Previously, Zabel worked with Wunderlich-Malec Engineering Inc. of Minnetonka, Minn., where he was the marketing manager for the process control and software integration business groups. Zabel has a B.S. in electrical engineering.

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